Selected Loos of London is a cartographic offering that we can all relate to, its very topic makes sure of this, yet I was somewhat unprepared for the degree of reaction the representation of lavatories would incite. Although many of the toilets featured in my piece cannot be classified as public conveniences, some are, and this has led individuals to express concern about the dwindling number of such facilities in the capital.
In their Victorian heyday numerous public toilets were built. Architects and engineers ensured that these constructions were of the highest standard, complying with the wishes of local authorities. Civic pride dictated that quality materials like decorative tiles, copper and marble were used. However, in time many of these facilities proved too costly to maintain and so the seed of decline was sown. Cheaper materials were introduced when repairs were carried out, accelerating further deterioration. In addition, a dilapidated appearance often attracted vandalism , making costs soar all the more. When you consider these maintenance expenses, place them within the context of the current economic climate where government cuts prevail, and couple this with the fact that councils do not have a statutory duty to offer public toilet provision, it is hardly surprising that it is not regarded as an immediate priority. Closures appear to be an appropriate option. Yet the truth remains; in a populous global city such as London, the lack of sufficient public toilets has broader public health and environmental repercussions which also come at a cost. Given these wider potential negative effects, closures are not a straightforward solution..